Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Historical Society scrambles to reprint naturalist's book about early Dunedin life

DUNEDIN — Beetles and crickets. Streets lined with wooden planks and sand. A Native American burial mound.

Sounds like a game where you identify which item doesn't belong, right? Wrong. These were all sights common in Dunedin during the early 1900s.

The Dunedin Historical Society wants to make sure that history is preserved by reprinting My Nature Nook by renowned naturalist Dr. Willis Stanley Blatchley. The book was named for a viewing platform built in an old live oak tree on Blatchley's Dunedin waterfront property. He sat in the nook and recorded his daily observations.

The historical society decided to reprint the book after a feverish 18-month search by members turned up only a single copy to add to the society's handful of originals.

"This is the only personal narrative in diary form of life in Dunedin in the early 1900s," said George Nigro, a Dunedin Historical Society board member and project manager. "It deserves to be saved from the dustbins of history."

My Nature Nook is one of more than a dozen books written by Blatchley, a former Indiana geologist and snowbird who in 1913 started documenting events, sights and sounds he encountered during 18 winters here.

Among the most interesting entries, Nigro said:

•Blatchley, skeptical of reports that hurricanes never hit Dunedin, devised a special design for support beams on his Bayshore Boulevard home, which was outside the city limits at the time.

"It was constructed so well that it actually survived the hurricanes of 1921 and 1924, one of which actually severed Caladesi Island in two," Nigro said. The house is still standing in what's now known as Weaver Park.

•When Blatchley arrived in 1913, he said the streets were covered with sand and wooden planks. The city had 1,700 residents compared to about 35,000 today.

•While the exact location of an Indian burial mound Blatchley described is unknown, historians believe it was situated within the present-day Dunedin Isles subdivision. "Somebody's house is probably sitting on top of it today," Nigro said.

To fund the effort, the cash-strapped historical society is offering 150 donors who contribute at either the $1,000 patron level or the $250 sponsor level a sequentially-numbered, leather-bound copy with his or her name inscribed inside. About 120 of the limited-edition copies remain available for purchase, Nigro said.

Others can call or visit the museum to preorder hardcover copies for $100 or paperback copies for $25.

The books will be unveiled for pickup and sale during a ceremony at the Dunedin Public Library Sunday. The event will feature a presentation on Blatchley's life, an interview with Dunedin Vice Mayor and Blatchley impersonator Ron Barnette, and a talk about the reprinting project.

The City Commission last month unanimously approved dedicating $1,000 of the commission budget to a patron-level contribution. The city will receive Book No. 1, which City Manager Rob DiSpirito said will be available to the public at the library.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or To write a letter to the editor, go to

.if you go

Reprint on sale

What: Presentation on renowned naturalist Dr. Willis Blatchley's life, and the unveiling of his reprinted book My Nature Nook for pickup and sale.

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Dunedin Public Library, 223 Douglas Ave.

Information: To preorder books or donate, call or visit the Dunedin Historical Museum, 349 Main St., at (727) 736-1176. Go online to to watch a promotional video about the book.

Historical Society scrambles to reprint naturalist's book about early Dunedin life 11/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Britain lowers terror threat level to 'severe' as more arrested


    MANCHESTER, England — Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch, from "critical" to "severe," as authorities said major progress has been made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing. More arrests are expected.

    An army bomb disposal team works with members of the police in the Moss Side area of Manchester, England, on Saturday. British police say they are evacuating residents around a house being searched in connection with the Manchester concert bombing. Police are searching a number of properties and have 11 suspects in custody in connection with Monday's explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, which killed more than 20 people and injured dozens. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)
  2. Miami pollster Sergio Bendixen dies


    Sergio Bendixen, the first Hispanic to run a U.S. presidential campaign who later pioneered public-opinion polling among Latinos and other immigrant populations, died late Friday in Miami. He was 68.

    Sergio Bendixen.
  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  4. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Romano: When a life is more valuable than an arrest

    Public Safety

    Before examining the details, let's propose a question:

    This is a handout request to accompany school portraits of Joey Boylan, who died of a drug overdose and who is being written about in John Romano's column for Sunday. We'd like to run a mug of Joey with the column. Any of the first three attached pictures would be fine to use. We don't need them all. Just pick your favorite portrait and put that in the system. Thanks.